Texas football vs. Texas Tech: 4 reasons the Horns can dominate Week 4

Xavier Worthy, Texas football Mandatory Credit: John Gutierrez-USA TODAY Sports
Xavier Worthy, Texas football Mandatory Credit: John Gutierrez-USA TODAY Sports /
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Xavier Worthy, Texas football Mandatory Credit: John Gutierrez-USA TODAY Sports
Xavier Worthy, Texas football Mandatory Credit: John Gutierrez-USA TODAY Sports /

The first game of the Big 12 slate is now just five days away for No. 22 ranked Texas football. Head coach Steve Sarkisian will see his squad take on new head coach Joey McGuire and the Texas Tech Red Raiders in a battle to begin Big 12 play in Lubbock this coming weekend.

Sark and the Longhorns will be looking to push their winning streak to two games if they can get this win on the road over Texas Tech on Sep. 24. Texas heads into this game with a record of 2-1 (0-0 Big 12) following their convincing 41-20 win over head coach Jeff Traylor and the defending Conference-USA Champion UTSA Roadrunners at home on Sep. 17.

Meanwhile, Texas Tech heads into this meeting with the Longhorns sporting a record of 2-1 (0-0 Big 12) after their double-digit loss to the No. 16 ranked NC State Wolfpack on the road in Raleigh on Sep. 17. The two wins on the season for the Red Raiders came over the Houston Cougars and FCS Murray State Racers.

Texas should have an edge in this game as they are favored in the early betting odds and hold the advantage in terms of talent and product on the field to start the season.

Texas football holds a few noteworthy advantages vs. Texas Tech

Here’s a look at four reasons why the Longhorns could dominate Texas Tech in the Big 12 opener in Week 4.

Xavier Worthy can take advantage of the one-high safety look

There will be opportunities to beat this Texas Tech defense deep. This modern 2-4-5 defense that the Red Raiders like to play under McGuire and defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter emphasizes speed and strong play in the trenches and at the safety positions. And we’ve certainly seen bits and pieces of this defensive vision coming together early this season for McGuire, DeRuyter, and the Red Raiders.

But this Tech defense is facing a notable issue worth bringing to light in the secondary. The most experienced of the starting corners and the star DB are both struggling in coverage out of the gates this season.

The two lowest-graded Texas Tech defensive backs in pass coverage among the regular starters are these aforementioned DBs, super senior star DB Marquis Waters and senior corner Rayshad Williams. These two have combined to allow more than 200 receiving yards, around 160 yards after the catch, and have missed three tackles in coverage assignments so far this season.

Given that these two are going to be largely responsible for shadowing the slot and dealing with star sophomore wide receiver Xavier Worthy, it looks like this could be an opportunity for Sark and the Longhorns to exploit in the passing game this weekend.

Worthy should be able to find some holes in this secondary this weekend. It would be nice to see him finally break through and get over the top for a deep touchdown catch. This looks like a good chance for him to do it against Tech in Lubbock.

If he’s matched up against Williams and/or Waters on passing plays, he’ll have an opportunity to get out in space or get over the top.

And the help over the top for Tech wasn’t too encouraging so far this season. The safety that will be assigned to help over the top will commonly be senior Dadrion Taylor-Demerson, who has allowed the most receiving yards in coverage assignments of any Tech defender this season. Taylor-Demerson has allowed 172 receiving yards, 21.5 yards per catch, and was in coverage assignments for two passes that went for at least 50 yards in the last three games.

Texas Tech has clearly struggled at times preventing deep passing plays this season. And this needs to be the week where Texas finally exploits that by finding Worthy with the deep ball.

According to CFB Stats, Texas Tech is one of roughly a dozen teams in the FBS that have allowed at least three passing plays of 50+ yards so far this season. That included a 54-yard touchdown pass that Tech gave up in the opener on Sep. 3 against Murray State.

I kept faith last weekend that Worthy would finally breakout for the Longhorns. It will happen eventually, and this coming weekend feels right.